Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, April 27, 2015

Season 3, Episode 76 "Requiem for Methuselah"


"Requiem for Methuselah"
Production Order: 76
Air Order: 74
Stardate: 5843.7
Original Air Date: February 14, 1969

Just realized that this episode aired on Valentine's Day. Extra Creepiness level: unlocked.

*******




Kirk's Log 5348.7: "So we got Rigelian fever on board. It's killed three people, and another 23 have it. If we can get our hands on some ryetalyn, then we can get rid of it completely, but it's hard to come by. We found some on a nearby planet."
Our boys beam down to get some. Bones says they better get it quick, because they only have four hours before everyone on board is gonna die of the fever, and he still has to process it. Spock's scans are showing life forms nearby, even though their initial scans said the planet was uninhabited. They start to search for what they need, but are overtaken by a flying machine that shoots at them. I think this machine has bits from the Romulan cloaking device and Nomad. A command gold star to you, Budget.



Our boys try to shoot back, but their phasers have been rendered inoperable. A man's voice commands the machine not to kill the away team, and then a dude walks up from out of nowhere. He says he is Flint, and that he bought the planet and moved there a few decades earlier to get away from the crappiness of humanity. He's been monitoring the E, knows who they are, and wants them to leave. Kirk protests that they won't have time to get to another planet, and that they desperately need the ryetalyn.
"We'll take it by force," Kirk warns.
"Fine," says Flint. "And I can kill you for trespassing."



When we come back from the credits break, Kirk calls Flint's bluff by comming Scotty and asking that he lock onto their coordinates. At Kirk's command, he will kill both Flint and the away team, then take the ryetalyn once Flint is out of the way.
"So we all die," says Kirk.
Seeing this pissing contest for what it is, Bones reasons with Flint, saying that Rigelian fever is similar to the bubonic plague. Flint stares off into space and talks about the plague for a moment. Spock asks if he is a history scholar.
"Yeah, kinda," says Flint. "You have two hours to get your stuff, then get back on your plague ship and GTFO. My robot, M-4, will collect the ryetalyn for you."
M-4 scoots off to find the ryetalyn. Some people have flying monkeys. This guy has flying robots. He invites the away team to kick it with him at his fucking castle, which - sweet! It's the matte painting from The Cage!



Flint lets them in, and he has some cool stuff, like Renaissance paintings. He tells our boys that his shields make it look like the planet is devoid of life, so that he doesn't have to deal with solicitors and people passing out religious pamphlets. He excuses himself, and Spock and Bones marvel at his Gutenburg Bible, and his Shakespeare script.
In another room, a blonde girl has been watching the visitors on a monitor. Now we know two things: 1. Flint lied when he said he lived here by himself, with no one but M-4 for company; and 2. this guy has some serious paranoia issues. Two people and a robot, and he still has some kind of Big Brother system in place? Holy shitsnacks.
Flint enters the room with the girl, Reyna. She's kind of excited because she's never seen other people before, and she wants to discuss sub-dimensional physics with Spock.
"Naw, don't," says Flint. "Vulcans are smart, but they're not as smart as we are." He doesn't want her to meet them.
Then he tries to kiss her, and it's the most awkward thing ever. She just kind of stands there, and he moves back again, as though her personal shields went up and he bounced off of them.



"Please?" she asks.
He's surprised, because she's never asked him for anything before, which seems weird, because how old is this chick? She's never seen other people before and she's never asked him for anything? Does she do nothing but sit in a chair facing the corner all day?
He acquiesces.

Back in the front room, Bones is stoked because he's found the bar.
"Rad! Hundred-year-old Saurian brandy!" He begins pouring a round. Now, I don't drink a lot, but it seems like bad form to walk into someone's house and pour yourself a tumbler of their top shelf shit.
"I won't bother pouring you some, Spock," he adds. "I know you think drinking is a human vice."
"No, give me a brandy," says Spock, who is scanning the paintings.
Bones then gets a pretty funny line here, as spoken to Kirk: "Do you think the two of us can handle a drunk Vulcan?"
"If I was emotional," says Spock, tossing back his liquor, "I'd be envious of Flint right now. All of these Leonardos are authentic and unknown, which makes them priceless. The funny thing is, they're all painted with contemporary materials. but they're not fake."
Surprisingly, neither Kirk nor Bones makes the obvious joke about Spock being quick to get his drunk on.
"Maybe this whole place is an illusion," suggests Kirk.
Bones seems to think that this idea is a viable one. Kirk asks Spock to discretely scan Flint thoroughly when he gets the chance, and then he comms Scotty to ask the engineer to Google Flint for his history.
M-4 returns with a baggy of crystal meth  ryetalyn, which Bones scans and declares to be good. He says he will take the crystals back to the E to process them into antidote, but then Flint reappears and says that M-4 can do it faster in his own lab. Bones can supervise, and everyone can join him for dinner.
"I thought you told us to get our shit and get out?" says Kirk, still sucking down brandy.
"Yeah, well, I was a dick earlier. Now I'm making up for it." Flint gestures, and Reyna walks in.
For some reason, Dramatic music! Commercial break! There's randomly another person on the planet!



Costuming aside: I like Reyna's dress. The neckline has an interesting architecture, as does the bolero that she's wearing. The fabric is okay, and mostly screams, "I'm at the fabric store and searching for something futuristic." But that cape: why? And why the hell does she have two ponytails? No, not pigtails on the sides, two ponytails, stacked one on top of the other, and wrapped in long coils. Flint is dressed alright in a dark paisley tunic. I guess I could take or leave the colored tights, which seem super-Shakespearean, but Flint is wearing a cape as well. His feels less ridiculous than hers, for some reason. Still:



Flint introduces Reyna to our boys, and she says she would like to have a scientific discussion with Spock, who says he would like that as well. When Kirk asks Flint about his earlier insistence that he lived alone, Flint replies that Reyna's parents were employees of his, and were killed in a plane crash when they arrived, leaving him to raise their infant daughter, and he's basically her father and NOW WE KNOW WHY SHE SHIED AWAY FROM THAT CREEPY-ASS KISS, YOU PERV.
WTF, Star Trek? Did you just go all Woody Allen on us?
Anyway, Reyna is smart. Like 17 university degrees smart, or so Flint says. He gives the ryetalyn back to M-4, and tells Bones that he can supervise the making of the antidote, while everyone else plays billiards. Bones follows M-4 back to the lab, but the robot disappears behind a locked door to do it's thing while Bones waits and fiddles with stuff in the lab.



What follows next is a series of awful shots that are just awful, but get a thumbs up for trying. They're overhead shots of Reyna playing billiards, and while it's awesome that the camera crew were trying to mix it up and prove that Reyna is a billiards expert, it's the shakiest shaky cam ever. We're talking Blair Witch caliber shaky cam.
 Anyway, Kirk is all impressed with the shot she made, and she offers to show him how to do it. You know how when a guy offers to show a girl physically how something is done, and he takes the opportunity to stand close behind her and actually adjust her movements, that it's supposed to come off as flirty and kind of sexy? This doesn't. She's clearly more interested in setting up the shot than in being sexy, and even when she reaches around his back to guide his cue, it's still weird. When he takes a second shot a few moments later, she sets it up again without him asking. She's just performing a task. Meanwhile, Kirk and Flint are discussing why Flint left Earth, and he declares that it was to get away from how awful and violent humanity was. Kirk argues that it isn't that way anymore, but that man has always had a violent streak that will pop up from time to time, blah, blah, blah. I kind of like that Star Trek has philosophical discussions about human nature, but here it doesn't really pertain to the story, so let's just skip it. Here's Reyna awkwardly helping Kirk line his shot up:



Spock sits down at what might be a grand piano, but what could be a similar kind of instrument, I don't know, I'm not really good with those kinds of instruments. He starts to play the waltz that's set up in front of him, and Flint suggests that Kirk dance with Reyna, because she's awesome at dancing as well. So they do.
In the lab, M-4 brings Bones three vials of blue liquid. The sound guy went to the trouble to overlay the waltz music in this scene, but muted it a bit, so that it's obvious that the lab is in the same building, and nearby. Good on ya, sound guy.
Flint watches Kirk and Reyna closely while they dance. Kirk obviously likes Reyna, and she seems to like him as well. Too bad the camera guys attempted to get those up-close shots with that same shaky cam again.



Bones comes in looking like thunder. "The ryetalyn is contaminated with this other chemical that makes the antidote completely useless."
"Oh, that sucks," says Flint. "I'll go with M-4 to get some more and we can try again."
he leaves, and Bones remarks that with two and a half hours to go until they all drop dead, he guesses they will have just enough time to get more ryetalyn and process it. But he's concerned that all of the ryetalyn on this planet may be contaminated. They kind of don't have a choice either way. The nearest planet that has it is too far away, so if it is contaminated, they're screwed. Kirk tells Bones to go with Flint and watch him.
"Hey, this waltz is by Brahms," Spock tells Kirk. "It's written in his own hand, but it's unpublished."
"Like I care," says Kirk. "I'm gonna go poke around in the lab. Give me the secret whistle if Bones and Flint come back."

Random Kirk Log 5843.75: "I might have screwed us over by coming here."
Kirk is wandering around the lab when Reyna comes in. She doesn't see him at first, so she goes straight to a some yellow door and just stands in front of it.
"What's back there?" he asks her.
"Dunno," she says. "Flint told me to never go in there. He gives me anything I ask for, so it seems like NBD to not go through that door. But sometimes I come here to think."
Oh, honey. If history has taught me anything, it's that a guy who forbids you to go through a certain door has something specific kept in there. It's either dead bodies, dead bodies, an enchanted rose that indicates how much longer he'll be some kind of man-monster, his crazy first wife, or dead bodies.
"Hey so, are you happy here with Flint?" Kirk asks her.
"He is the greatest, kindest, wisest man in the galaxy," she replies. Okay, not only is that not an answer to the question he just asked, but it sounds like something Flint told you to say.
He tells her not to be afraid, then he tries to kiss her, but she reacts the same way that she did when Flint tried to kiss her: she blinks in confusion.
Oops, now they're being cock-blocked by M-4, which has entered the lab and caught them smooching. Well, it caught Kirk smooching, anyway.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!



Kirk pushes Reyna out of the way and squares off against M-4, but again, his phaser doesn't work. Reyna tries to call off the robot by yelling commands, but I guess it doesn't work for her, only Flint. M-4 is about to take Kirk down when Spock enters the lab and zaps the robot from behind.
"Ha! It was looking at you, so it didn't fuck with my phaser!"crows Spock.

All three go to confront Flint about the robot nearly killing Kirk.
"Yeah, sorry," says Flint, who doesn't actually sound sorry at all. "It thought you were attacking Reyna. It's a good thing you didn't attack me. I'd've kicked your ass." Um, that last remark had nothing to do with anything.
"Yeah, you said something when we met to that extent," Kirk replies.
"A-ha! See, Reyna?" asks Flint. "Man is still violent. Is Kirk brave, or a fool?"
The fuck? You started this pissing contest, dude. You can't turn around and accuse someone of being violent because he pointed out that you threatened him earlier.
A new and improved M-4 comes into the room.
"The hell?" asked Kirk. "You have another one of those?"
"Yeah, they're cool," says Flint. He sends the robot back to the lab to help Bones, then exits, commanding Reyna to come with him.
"That guy treats her like shit," Kirk remarks to Spock.
"So what?" asks Spock. "He has something that we need. Keep in your pants for once, and quit hitting on his daughter-girlfriend so we can get our medicine."
"That's so gross," says Kirk. "But he was totally trying to get us to hook up, too!"
"What can I say?" asks Spock. "Some humans are just fucked up like that."
Kirk calls Scotty, possibly to see what the engineer thinks of this crap.
"Pretty much everybody is sick now," says Scotty. "And I tried to Google Flint, but it's like he doesn't exist. A rich recluse with another name bought that planet thirty years ago."
"Okay, run a Google search on his legal ward, Reyna," Kirk tells Uhura before signing off.
"Scanned Flint," Spock says. "He's human all right, but the tricorder says he's like 6000 years old. We have a little more than two hours to get those meds and inject everyone before we all die. Also, Flint being a weirdo, I think it's safe to assume that he's watching us."
"Yeah, I feel like he's keeping us here for some reason, even though he wants us gone," says Kirk.



These last few sentences are watched by monitor by Flint and Reyna in another room. Flint turns off the screen. Reyna asks if he sent M-4 after Kirk.
"Naw, it just malfunctioned," says Flint. "I've never lied to you, right?"
No, only about your Dead Body Room.
"What did you feel?" he asks, which is a weird question.
"Are you going to give them their medicine?" she returns.
He replies in the affirmative and tells her to go say good bye to Kirk and Spock before they leave.

Scotty calls Kirk. Reyna doesn't exist on file, either.
"Well, fuck me," says Kirk.
"Open pants," Spock instructs him. "Remove hand. We're getting our medicine, let it go."
But Kirk doesn't want to let it go, because he has a thing for Reyna now.
She comes in to say goodbye, and Spock says he is going to the lab to help Bones, knowing full well that the last time that Kirk and Reyna were left alone together one of Flint's floaty robots attempted to kill Kirk.
Kirk doesn't want to say goodbye to Reyna. He kisses her, and she reacts as she did before, by blinking confusedly. But when he kisses her a second time, she gets the hint and she kisses him back. Of course Voyeurism Vick is in the other room, watching all of this on his secret monitor. When Reyna pulls out of the kiss, she looks mildly terrified.
"I hope that was good for you," Flint tells the screen as he turns it off. "Cuz I'm done with your ass."
"Come with me," says Kirk. "You love me, not Flint!"
Reyna runs away in fright.



Down in the lab, M-4 has taken off with the ryetalyn. When Kirk shows up looking all emo, Bones informs him that their meds are gone, and they're totes screwed now. Spock does some scans and finds that the ryetalyn is behind Door #2.
Kirk goes all conspiracy theory, and "how do we open this?" and "set phasers to stun" when the door just slides open. Then there's a brief, pointless argument, where Spock insists on going in himself to get the ryetalyn, and then Bones says he'll do it, and again, everyone is over-thinking this danger and espionage shit because when they finally walk in, the medicine is sitting on a table just inside the door.
But they can't just leave, because we've 15 more minutes of this crap before things are resolved, and Kirk & Co have to finish playing detective.
So what else was in the dead body room?
Dead bodies.



No, just kidding. But if you guessed androids, you're correct! Congratulations, I'm sending you a box of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat, ding-ding!
There are several tables with bodies covered in sheets, marked Reyna 14, 15, and 16.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!
When we come back, Flint is entering the room to confirm that these androids are earlier versions of Reyna, and that he made them all. So of course Spock has already figured out this shit: he talks to Flint about how he has authentic Leonardos that were made recently, and that waltz by Brahms that was never published.
"Yeah, you caught me," says Flint. "I'm Leonardo and Brahms, and Solomon, and Methuselah, Alexander, Lazarus, Merlin. Also, a bunch of other names."

Merlin. This guy is Merlin. This is getting to be as stupid as "Wolf in the Fold" where Jack the Ripper was an alien. Typically, Star Trek likes to take some historical person or thing and say "Maybe it's aliens." Doctor Who likes to do that as well, but we know they're just fucking with us. Although there are plenty of goofy, funny moments in most episodes of Star Trek, we're expected to take the story itself seriously. So here, they want us to believe that this guy, a human, discovered that he was immortal (no real explanation as to why), and that he's been living bits of lives, and then pretending to die and moving on to another life... for the past six thousand years.
"You're rich and smart because you're fucking old," says Spock. "Like, literally older than dirt."



"Yeah, I was BFFs with like, Galileo and Socrates. Also, I was married like, a hundred times," says Flint. He gives the old Highlander speech, about how much it sucks to be married to someone, only to have them grow old and die on you, and you have to pick up and carry on, and all that crapola. So he figured, why not just make a new girlfriend? One who doesn't die on you. Also, he made her brilliant like himself. I'm reminded of The Nightmare Before Christmas, where the mad scientist doctor makes a companion for himself and actually gives her half of his brain.
Now here's the thing: he went to all of this trouble to build himself a bride, and he's totally in love with her, but now Kirk is in love with her too. And Flint is not in the mood to share his toys.
"Then why the fuck were you keeping me here?" Kirk demands.
"Because you drew out her emotions," says Flint. "I loved her, but she didn't understand. Now she understands, but she loves you. Not okay."

Okay, so she's not his daughter, or his legal ward, and he didn't raise her. He built her to be his wife. Then why the bloody hell did he tell them that she was his wife? Why not just say, "This is my wife?" Creeper Flint. And creeper Star Trek for not making up a good reason why he'd tell them that.
So now, of course, he can't let them go, because they'd tell his secret, and then people would come looking for them, so he's going to kill them, or lock them in some dungeon or some shit.
"No, fuck that," says Kirk, and he whips out his comm to call Scotty.
Only now Flint has whipped out some remote control, and with a flick of a button, the E disappears from orbit. Then he presses another button, and a very small E has appeared on a table in the lab. Let's just re-cap here, shall we?
A dude who is six thousand years old, who was once Leonardo and Alexander, and Brahms and Lazarus, has built himself an android wife, and because he is angry with Kirk because she's in love with the captain, he has built some kind of thing that makes ships disappear from orbit, and then reappear, very tiny, on the planet's surface.



"The hell?" demands Kirk.
"Haha, I'm more powerful that you!" crows Flint.
There's kind of a funny shot that they do that shows Kirk looking onto the bridge from outside the ship, and they show him huge on the front viewscreen. I don't think that's how it works, but if that were the least-believable thing going on this episode, I'd take it.



"Chillax," says Flint. "I'm gonna shrink you guys down, too, and keep you in that little ship. Everyone on board will be suspended in time. I'll keep you that way for maybe two thousand years? You've kind of done me a favor, Kirk. You fished Reyna's emotions out of her, and now that she has them, when you are gone, she'll bestow them upon me."
Oops, he didn't see Reyna come in.
"You can't harm them!" she says.
Bones asks what everyone is wondering: "After we leave, how will you feel about him?" She doesn't answer, so Bones fills in the blank. "Flint, you a-hole, you didn't understand that she could feel any emotion. So once you harm us, she'll hate you."
Clearly, Flint had not realized this. Resignedly, he presses the button to make the E big again, while putting it back in orbit and unfreezing the people onboard. (Seriously, it was one button. When he designed this thing, whatever it is, did he really think he would only need one button for everything? He needed two buttons to get the E out of orbit and shrunk into miniature, but only one "restore" button?)
"That's why you were keeping us here!" yells an angry Kirk. "You knew that I was arousing her feelings, and figured you could step in when I left! You knew what was going on the whole time!"
Flint says two things that are distinctly creepy by themselves and more so in conjunction: "I'll take what is mine!" (meaning Reyna) and "We're alike! We're both smart and immortal!" No and no, you bastard.
They suddenly go at each other, and now's the time for Flint to pull out that awesome strength that he was bragging about earlier. Spock separates them.
"Don't be a dumbass," he tells Kirk.
And then Kirk comes back with one of the dumbest lines ever: "Get out of my way! We're fighting over a woman!"
No shit, Sherlock.
"Dude, she's not a woman, she's an android," Spock reminds him.
Too late. Flint comes at him, and they roll around on the floor some more, Flint flipping him across the room.



Reyna sees that two guys are fighting over her, and rather than being pleased like some basic bitch, she's kind of freaked out by it. She yells at them to stop, and surprisingly, it works. Girlfriend has finally decided that she's going to be her own person and assert herself. She yells at them that no one will command her, that she has a choice, and only she will make it. Kirk excited says that she she has free will. Flint dickishly takes credit for it. But she is still saying that the choice is hers.
This is promising, Star Trek. Don't blow -- oh.

Now Kirk and Flint are standing apart, and calling her like a fucking dog. Like, I'm not even kidding with this shit. And who does Reyna go to? Nobody, because this is bullshit. Instead, she breaks down. She drops a tear, which is pretty freaking advanced for an android. Then she collapses on the ground.
Bones puts a finger to her neck, but I don't know what the hell he's checking for. If she's an android, then she would have shorted, or her system would have become corrupted. She didn't have blood, or a heart to create a pulse, so Bones would not have come up with anything by putting his hand there, anyway.

"What happened?" Kirk asks.
"She loved you both," guesses Spock. "She loved Flint like a father or mentor. The joys of love made her more human, but she was overwhelmed and unprepared for the terrible things that love can bring, like jealousy and hatred. It was too much for her system."

Later, Kirk is in his quarters when Spock enters. Spock says that everyone on board has gotten their shots and the plague is subsiding. Kirk nods numbly.
He mumbles about Flint being a very lonely man, then says "We put on a pretty poor show, didn't we?"
Yes, Kirk. This episode was terrible. How fourth wall of you. He then lays his head on the desk and mutters something about wanting to forget.
I'd like to take a moment and point something out: Kirk fell completely in love with Reyna over the course of four hours. Like, he was asking her to run away with him. And he didn't spend the entirety of that time in her presence. He spent some time dicking around with his friends, talking to Flint and wandering the house. It's always weird when you put time perspectives on things, right? Romeo and Juliet takes place over the course of a week. Of Mice and Men: a weekend. "Requiem for Methuselah:" four hours. Now, I'm not saying that some people don't fall in love that quickly. I'm sure that it does happen sometimes. But I'm saying that for Kirk, it happens all the time. If he meets a girl near the beginning of the episode, he wants to run away with her at the end. This is a bit much to take in, with everything else in this episode.
Bones enters and sees that Kirk has his head on the desk. "Oh good, he's sleeping at last." Yes, Bones. He laid his head on the desk and instantly fell asleep. This show sometimes, you guys.


"So I checked the tricorder readings," Bones tells Spock. "Looks like Flint is dying. Whatever made him immortal on Earth remained there when he left the planet. So he'll live the rest of his life, then die. I let him know. He says he intends to devote the rest of his life and abilities to 'improve the human condition.'"
What the hell does that even mean? It's so super vague that dude could claim he was doing just that while sitting on the couch in his underwear, eating Cheetos and watching reruns of Judge Judy.
"You know, I pity you, Spock," says Bones, launching into a bullshit tirade. "Being a Vulcan, you don't know or understand love. You don't know what it means to feel those high highs and low lows." He goes on like that, and Spock just kind of stands there, listening to that crap.
Clearly, the good doctor doesn't know jack shit about Vulcans. It's not that they are emotion-less. It's that they feel those emotions so deeply that to engage with them constantly would possibly drive them mad, as it does when it builds up every seven years and they enter Pon Farr. Spock knows what the fuck you're talking about, Doctor. He's just not sharing that shit with you.
Bones adds one last, "I do wish he could forget her, though," before wishing Spock a good night and exiting.
And just because Spock knows what Bones is talking about, he walks over to his friend, places his fingers on Kirk's forehead in the mind-meld configuration, and whispers, "Forget."
Is it possible for Vulcans to erase bad memories from someone else's brain? I have no idea. But this episode has asked us for some huge suspensions of disbelief, so why the fuck not?


What the hell is up with this episode? It's like story ideas were tossed into a hat, and they just decided to pull them all. "Androids? Okay, we haven't done androids since season one. How about that thing where we make something historical into an alien thing? Oh, I know! Let's make it one long-lived human, and make him all of the historical figures! Fun, right? Ooh, let's give him powers! Like, he's smart enough to know how to shrink shit like the Enterprise!  Okay, and Kirk falls for his girl, because Kirk needs to fall for someone in every episode, and we'll have a plague. Yeah, that sounds good. Somebody make this cohesive, we'll start filming after lunch."
Sometimes, friends... sometimes this show makes me want to kick puppies.


Death Toll:
Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 6
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 0
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 7
Total crew deaths thus far: 49

So three Mystery Crewmen died. Well, that we know of, anyway. It was maybe more in the meantime, but Bones didn't mention that in his final report at the end. So let's stick with three. Also, Reyna. Does she count? I dunno. I think I counted Andrea, so we'll count Reyna too.

This episode is shocking similar to: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" Man, why are androids only made for dubious, creepy reasons?
*******

I tried another one of those Inko's teas, this time White Tea Blueberry. It was really good, and because of the underpowering flavor of the white base, the blueberry was really prominent. It was a little on the extra sweet side, but that's kind of to be expected with bottled or canned teas. I would definitely drink this again. Bonus points: no scary sugars!








Jack

Monday, April 20, 2015

Season 3, Episode 75 "The Way To Eden"


"The Way To Eden"
Production Order: 75
Air Order: 75
Stardate: 5832.3
Original Air Date: February 21, 1969

"Hey, Lady Archon - what is this week's episode about?"
"Hippies."
"Sorry?"
"Hippies. They take over the Enterprise."
"Hippies... in space?"
"Yep, space hippies."
"You cannot be serious."
"I am. And sadly, so was Star Trek."

*******


This week's episode starts with some shots of another, smaller ship in space, and it was driving me nuts where I'd seen that ship before. It's a completely different ship in the remastered version, and I went looking to see if I could find a side-by-side shot (I couldn't). Fortunately, in the comments section of a review of the remastered shots, I found the answer to why that ship seemed so familiar: it's a Tholian ship with warp nacelles added. I'm kind of torn: is this a clever reuse of a model that was only used in one episode, or a quick, goofy retooling of a ship that eagle-eyed fans would notice anyway? Maybe both?
So back to the actual episode: this ship is the Aurora, and it's been stolen. The E has been chasing it down. Spock says there are six people aboard. They try to hail the hail the ship, but because Lt Palmer is sitting at communications instead of Uhura, they get no response. (I guess I don't hate Palmer, but I dislike when she replaces Uhura, because Uhura is the shit.) The ship is overheating, and Kirk barks over the comm line that the people on the Aurora best recognize that they're all gonna die. The ship blows up, but Scotty has managed to beam them off just in time.


Kirk's Log 5832.3: "So we were asked by the Catullan government to get back the son of their ambassador. We found him with some other people on a stolen ship, which has exploded in space, so we've taken them onboard with us. We have to go carefully, because negotiations with Catula are under way and kind of delicate."

The people from the Aurora get off the transporter pad and sit on the floor. When Kirk calls Scotty and asks him to take these people to the briefing room, they start chanting "No go! No go!" Kirk can hear them over the comm, on the bridge. Chekov thinks that he recognizes one of the voices.
"The hell?" asks Kirk, and he hauls his butt out of his chair and heads for the transporter room.
When he gets there, he asks to speak to Tongo Rad, the guy with the purple eyebrows and hair. He tells this guy that he isn't under arrest for causing an interstellar incident and stealing a starship, precisely because he's the son of an ambassador.
"Whatever," says Tongo Rad, and he sits back down.


Every now and again, I'm forced to take a less-than-stellar screencap in order to show something specific that has caught my eye. In this case, it's Tongo Rad's body paint. Now, I don't dislike body paint. It's pretty freaking awesome, actually. But here... all of the space hippies seem to have some body paint on them. On the girls, it tends to be on their legs. On the guys, they each have a design on their foreheads. The guy called Dr Sevrin has a vine and some flowers. That's fine, especially when we're talking about hippies. The guy called Adam is sporting a bluebird on his forehead. A little goofy, but okay. Still in keeping with the hippy theme. Tongo Rad... has a bunch of grapes painted on his forehead.
For serious.
Grapes. With a leaf.
It reminds me of a scene from "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt": "I have a temporary tattoo that says You're Grape!"
Maybe Tongo Rad thinks he's pretty grape, too.

Kirk tells Spock to take the group to sick bay to checked for radiation poisoning from the ship exploding, but Spock wants to talk to them first. He addresses the group by holding his hands in a triangle form and intoning "One." They repeat it back, obviously willing to talk to him because he knows the secret password. He asks what their plan is, and after a bit of run-around, they tell him that they are trying to find a planet called Eden. Kirk breaks in to say that no such place exists. because of his orders concerning Tongo Rad, he's going to treat them like guests, give them medical check-ups, and issue them quarters, where they will wait until they can be taken to their nearest starbase, and then delivered back to their respective planets. 
"No, take us to Eden," says Dr Sevrin, who is getting angry with Kirk.
"Dude, fuck you guys," says Kirk. "This isn't some Princess Cruise! You're gonna hang out on the E, then you're going home!"
He exits the transporter room, followed by chants of "Herbert! Herbert! Herbert!"

I'm pretty sure that, other than Spock, this is the first time we've seen
ear prosthetics used on Star Trek to denote that someone is an alien.
In this case, Dr Sevrin is from the planet Tiburon.

Back on the bridge, Kirk takes care of some communication business with Palmer (tell Starfleet they have the people who stole the Aurora, the Aurora then blew up, tell the Catulan ambassador that his son is safe), then swings by the helm. Chekov is pretty sure that one girl from the hippy group is Irina, a girl he attended Starfleet Academy with. Irina dropped out of the Academy, and Kirk is surprised that anyone from that group could have possibly been in Starfleet.
"Dude, go see if it's her."
Chekov thanks Kirk and exits quickly. This seems kind of weird to me. I mean, it's nice that Kirk is allowing Chekov to satisfy his curiosity that the group might contain someone he is familiar with, but it seems like a pretty loose way to run a ship. I feel like in most cases, your CO is gonna make you finish your shift before running off to see if your friend is on board. Also, navigation is now wide-open. Someone has to be found on the bridge to fill that spot while Chekov is gone, and someone has to be shifted in that other person's spot. And so on.
 Spock returns to the bridge after taking the group to sick bay. Spock tells him that the group is headed by Dr Sevrin (the guy with the ears), who is a brilliant man who worked with sound on his native homeworld, but was fired when he started the group. Kirk seems incredulous that Sevrin is smart.
"Tongo Rad is also fucking smart," says Spock, who seems mildly put-out that Kirk made such snap judgments. "They are rejecting the pre-planned society, and want to live simpler lives."
"But that's not smart! We lived simpler lives back when we were not smart!" Kirk protests.
"It's about balance," Spock replies. "You can live simply and still be smart."
"How come they like you so much?" Kirk asks.
"Because I'm not a condescending dillhole?" suggests Spock. "Maybe it's because their need to live simpler than the rest of society makes them feel like aliens at home, and I know what that feels like."



*low whistle* Somebody wrapped the Lesson Hammer in velvet there. What's more, they did it in a clever way. If you're going to have a logical guy like Spock get along with people who are part of a counter-culture, there needs to be another reason beyond "They were nice to me." In this case, "I respond to these people because we share the feeling of being different in a place where everyone is the same" is a good one because it plays on the fact that Spock shares genetics from two very different species, and must deal with it when either of those species looks at him sideways. Somebody bothered to turn this into a bit of character development for Spock.
What's more, the counter culture isn't portrayed as a horrible thing here. Spock gets along with these people because he can see their point of view. Now add to it that he lives within a military-based construct, on a show that aired in the late sixties, when military and counter-culture where viewed as polar opposites.
This is what makes this show good: even when you run across crappy episodes like this (no joke - I must have read half a dozen confessions online where people declared themselves to be embarrassed to be Trek fans when this episode came up), you're still getting little flashes of brilliance.

This scene actually comes to an end when Kirk, realizing that he has been a total dillhole, asks what a "Herbert" is.
"Herbert was some minor official who was an unyielding dick and insisted that his way of doing things was the only way," Spock explains. "They called you out for being a dick to them."
"Okay, so maybe I need to be less of a dick," admits Kirk.
Yes, boy. yes.

Down in sick, we are invited to a hippy jam. The guy called Adam plays this sort of harp-guitar thing that looks like a cosplay sword with strings. The others in the group enjoy the music, then Christine comes in to get Sevrin for his physical. (Her line this week is "You're next" and I'm so, so glad that they made better use of Majel Barrett on TNG, cuz this is crap.)
Irina is glad to see Chekov, and they take a walk so they can talk without the others staring them down. He's weirded out that she's become a member of this group. She thinks it's weird that he's in Starfleet. But when she asks if he's happy, and he replies that he is, she seems fine with it.

The other dark-haired hippy girl is the same actor who played
Yeoman Mears on "The Galileo Seven". Sadly, she doesn't get
a name this time around. She's just "Girl #2."

They kind of dance around the idea that there was a prior romantic relationship between these two, the basic gist of which is that Irina and Chekov probably met at the Academy and were involved, but then Irina left and stayed with some friends. Chekov says that she always seemed to be somewhere else in her mind, and was never fully engaged in the relationship. She tells Chekov that she feels that he has two sides to him: the side that wants to fall inline with everyone else, and the side that wants to break free of that. She encourages him to "break free," and he sighs and replies, "Go to your friends." But when she leaves, there's immediately a commotion in the corridor and Chekov rushes to see what's up.


After the commercial break, Christine gets another line ("I thought they kept all the animals in cages!") and Kirk goes into sick bay to see why there's a riot out in the corridor. It turns out that Sevrin is a carrier for some super bug that's come about because the current society is hella sterile. Sevrin is immune to it, but it's a Typhoid Mary thing: he can give it to others, which means that if they do actually ever establish a colony somewhere, he might inadvertently kill everyone. Sevrin is fuming, and declares that Bones is just passing judgment on him. Kirk asks if the crew is at risk, but Bones says no, because there's an inoculation for it and everyone onboard is up to date with their shots. Probably the hippies are as well, he thinks.
God, this isn't going to be a vaccine episode, is it? I'm getting really tired of that conversation.
Bones recommends isolation while he checks everyone to make sure they've had their boosters.
"You invented the crime, and now you're going to punish me for it!" Sevrin yells. "You're violating my rights by practicing your medicine on me!"
Yeah, Bones is not putting up with that shit: "Bitch, you knew you had this from the get-go! You're a scientist!"
Kirk orders isolation.


He strolls out of sick bay after ordering a guard put on Sevrin in isolation, and the hippies are calmly sitting on the floor in the corridor. They make the triangle sign at him. He sees Sulu down the corridor talking to Girl #2. Sulu seems to be enjoying the attention as Girl2 tries to talk him into joining their group.
"Hey, Sulu, WTF?" asks Kirk.
Yeah, seriously - WTF? How come every time there's something to distract Sulu from his duties, his head turns? Drugs? Sure, he'll do drugs. How about an illness that makes you seem drunk? Yeah, he's totally susceptible to that. Join a weird-ass cult? Absolutely, he'll take a flyer. My complaint here is that none of this seems to gel with what else we know about Sulu, which is mostly that he's a good officer, a great helmsman, and a decent role model to the headstrong Chekov.
"We're cool," Sulu tells Kirk.
Kirk announces to the group that Sevrin will be let out of isolation when Bones is certain that everyone is protected from the disease that he is carrying. This is actually a rational idea, but I guess they want us to think that the group is irrational, because Adam hops up with his guitar-sword and starts another hippy jam, "Stiff Man Putting My Mind in Jail." The others get up and chant "Herbert" at Kirk as he, Chekov and Sulu climb into the lift. 


Once back on the bridge, Scotty calls to let Kirk know that one of the girls had come down to engineering to recruit more guys to her group. He gave her the boot. Kirk asks Spock to "deal with them."

Kirk's Log 5832.5: "I hate these people. They suck."

Down in isolation, Spock appeals to Sevrin to keep his people in check while on the E.
"Here's the thing," he says. "Right now, you're not being charged with anything. But if you guys start some kind of revolution, you will be. Now, I can use the E's computers and stuff to try to suss out this mythological planet that you're looking for, but the Federation is not gonna let you guys settle it if you're charged with being revolutionaries."
Sevrin goes on a rant about how he knew full well about his carrying a crappy disease, and how he's restricted to only traveling in places of high technology because the people there are most likely to be innoculated against it, but he's pissed off about it. He doesn't have the freedom to move about as he'd like to. Also, he's blaming society for basically bringing about the disease in the first place. He wants to go to places where the people live simply. Spock points out that he may kill those people accidentally, but Sevrin is certain that being among those people will cure him. He ends his rant calmly, asking Spock if he is expected to be patient while medical technology finds a cure. Spock says yes. Then he asks if he should tell his peeps to be good because Spock will find them a place to live, and Spock agrees again. Sevrin says to send them in, and he will talk to them.

Oh, man. let's talk about that egg badge. All of the people in the
group wear those, and Girl2 tried to give one to Sulu. It's a little stuffed
hard boiled egg with an infinity symbol on the yolk. I'm not sure what it
means, but I swear that infinity symbol looks like glasses, officially
making it more hip-ster than hip-py looking. Ten bucks says that
Roomie will ask me to make one for her.

Back on the bridge, Spock reports to Kirk that he thinks Sevrin might be insane. I'm not sure what gave him that impression, beyond his belief that simplistic people will cure him, but whatever.
"Dude, I'm sorry," says Kirk. "I know you thought that guy was hella smart, but apparently he just cray-cray."
"Yeah, no," Spock responds. "Just cuz that dude is losing his marbles doesn't mean that their ideas don't have merit. Get over yourself."
Kirk rings Bones and asks him to run to psychological tests on Sevrin.

Kirk's Log 5283.6: "Bones is going through Sevrin's medical records, to see if he's actually nuts or not. He hates me, but he told Spock that he would try to get his followers to behave."

Spock is working at the computer console in his quarters when Adam comes in. Adam is stoked to Spock's Vulcan lyre on a shelf, and he asks if Spock can play. Spock sets his work aside to strum for a moment, and Adam excitedly asks if they can have a ship-wide hippy jam session. Spock agrees.

Chekov is down in auxiliary control when Irina comes in. She says she's been looking for him, and asks what room they are in. He explains that they control the ship from that room if some bad shit goes down on the bridge.
"Cool," she says nonchalantly. "So hey - sorry I gave you shit earlier about being in Starfleet. That was super-crappy of me. What are you working on?"
"I'm helping Spock look for your mythological planet," he replies.
They're kind of standing too close together, and Chekov is clearly losing his cool, as he starts rattling off scientific-sounding stuff that seems to make little sense.
They start making out, but then Spock cock-blocks them when he calls to say that he's no longer getting the info that Chekov is supposed to be sending.


So this is the part where the "we-just-want-to-start-our-own-colony-and-live-simply" hippies disappear and the weird-ass cult members show up. Girls 1 and 2 are kicking it with Adam in the rec room when Tongo Rad comes in and says that he's been talking to Sulu, who is a weapons specialist, and also a botanist. He goes on about how much he likes botany, but why the fuck did he mention the weapons specialty? Adam says he's been talking to Spock, and that he thinks he can get the Vulcan to join them. Irina rushes in to say that the computers onboard the E have all of the information that they need. 



"We should get a bunch of people to join us!" says Adam. "Be friendly, and they'll join."
The others agree. They look high as fuck. Then we get a creepy zoom-in on Dr Sevrin in isolation.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!


When we come back, the crew is gathering in the rec room for the hippy jam session. So we listen to that for a few minutes. I'm not really sure what the song is about, like maybe togetherness or something? It's that typical rambling sixties hippy music. You know the kind. It's being broadcast over the PA for some reason, so you can see Sevrin in isolation smiling while the music plays. A dude on the bridge plays air drums. 



Spock and Chekov show up for the session. Spock has his lyre, and he and the blonde girl sit down to jam. She's playing a musical bike tire or something, and I can see on her arm that she has the grapes painted on as well. WTF is up with these grapes?


Sevrin's guard is rocking out to the jam session music, and Tongo Rad comes up behind him and does this sort of Vulcan nerve pinch, only he grabs him behind the ears or something. The guard goes down. Okay, there are grapes on the back of Sevrin's head. So we have grapes and eggs with glasses and flowers. What the hell kind of cult is this?
On the bridge, Scotty busts the guy playing air drums, and scowls at the back of Sulu's head while the helmsman rocks out. He complains to Kirk about young people. Scotty is one AARP commercial from yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

Tongo Rad and Sevrin go into auxiliary control and do a similar pinch thing to the ears of the Red in that chair. Then they turn the ship around. The rest of the cult join them.
On the bridge, Sulu reports that he is no longer in control of the helm.
"Ha! I took your ship!" crows Sevrin over the PA. "I have control over everything, including life support, and I locked the doors to auxiliary control so you can't get in. We're taking this ship to Eden, and if you try to stop us, I'll blow us all up!"
"Holy fuck," says Sulu, "we're going into Romulan territory."
Kirk tries to warn the cult that the Romulans will attack them if they go much further into that space, but they just laugh. Then he tries to warn them that Sevrin is nuts, but again, they laugh it off. Spock attempts to tell Adam directly that he can access a file that says that Sevrin carries this disease, and another that says he's completely off his rocker.
"Oh, that's tragic," says Adam. "I'm crying a river."
Tongo Rad says that Spock and Chekov had actually located Eden, and they can make it in about three hours. Sevrin, deciding that Kirk & Co will try to convince them to turn around in the meantime, decides to screw with some wiring. Adam gets out his guitar-sword and sings a song about going to Eden, yay brother. This is like the fourth or fifth hippy jam song that we've heard in this episode. And like the flashing red alert from "Let That be Your Last Battlefield", I hope they never come up in another episode again.


Thy're closing in on Eden, and Irina asks Sevrin what he did to the wiring. Sevrin tells her that he adjusted some stuff so that the ship's PA will broadcast a sound above ultrasonic, which will knock out the crew so the cult can escape to the surface in a shuttle.
"Um, I think a sound that high-pitched will actually kill them," says Irina. "I remember that from my days at the Academy."
"No, it's cool," says Sevrin. "I'm an expert, so I know better than you."
"Yeah... I also think it will kill them," says Tongo Rad.
"Y'all, could you please STFU?" Sevrin demands. "I got this."
Girl #1 looks uneasy, as do Tongo Rad and Irina, but Adam and Girl2 are still gung-ho. Sevrin manages to convince them that they are still peace-loving hippies, and not Kool-Aid-drinking, Jim-Jones-following creepy cultists.
Oops, it looks like the E crew is now phasering their way through the door. So Sevrin unleashes his new weapon. Someone (possibly Leonard Nimoy) recalls that Spock has hella-awesome hearing, and that this crazy high-pitched sound would affect him first. He crumples against the wall. After a moment, Kirk follows suit. Scotty is already on the floor. People all over the ship are shown passing out. Adam and the others continue singing the Yay, Brother song over the PA. They take a shuttlecraft to the surface.


Kirk struggles to his feet after the break, and Spock instructs him to shut off the ultrasonic noise in auxiliary control. He does so, and begins calling different parts of the ship. No one answers at first, but then Sulu replies back that power is still in auxiliary control, and the hangar calls to say that a shuttle is gone. Spock does a scan. No Romulans in sight, but he sees the shuttle on the surface. Except for the cult, there are no people or animals on this planet. Kirk has the transporter set so that they will beam down near the shuttle, but no within eyesight of the cult. Not sure how that's possible, but whatever.
Scotty is in charge. 
"If you encounter any Romulans, tell them we're just chasing down some AWOL hippies. Get them to understand," Kirk tells him.
*snort* Yeah, right. "Hippies, Praetor? They're like counter-culture? No? Okay."

So our boys in blue beam down with Chekov in tow and look around. They used some old footage from "Shore Leave", which matches oddly with the rest of their in-studio set.

Shore Leave

Studio set

And while I normally hate the remastering of scenes on this show, the shot they used to replace the one from "Shore Leave" is absolutely gorgeous:


They spread out to scan and look for the cult, but are pulled together again when Chekov touches a flower, and it fucking fries his hand.
"The hell?" asks Bones, scanning it. "All of the plant life here - even the grass - is hella acidic. Our clothes will protect us for a little while."
Spock stumbles upon the body of Adam, who had clearly bit into a piece of fruit from a tree.
"He's dead, Jim."
"His name was Adam, you dillhole," Spock reminds Kirk, because you know that he's pretty sure that Kirk has forgotten.


They spot the shuttle a little ways off and head for it. The rest of the cult members are inside, with feet burned all to hell. Recall, if you will, that all of the cult members, with the exception of Adam, were barefoot, and they were walking around on the grass. The away team helps the cult members out of the shuttle, and Kirk calls for a beam-up, because Bones can't heal that shit here.
"No way," says Sevrin. "Not leaving. This is Eden. We have arrived."
And he climbs a tree, picks one of those crazy-ass fruits and takes a big ol' honkin' bite out of it before crumpling up and falling out of the tree, dead.
Irina realizing that the flavor of Kool-Aid that she's been drinking is Berry Crazy, and she sobs on Chekov's shoulder.


Back on the bridge, Kirk tells Palmer to tell Starfleet that they have the four remaining hippies, and that they are getting medical treatment.
"So, hey," Chekov tells Kirk. "I was kind of a dick during this mission. I'm sorry. I wasn't doing my job to the best of my abilities, and I'll totally take a hit on my permanent record for it."
"Naw, we're cool," says Kirk.
Irina enters the bridge from the lift, and she and Chekov say goodbye.
"Don't be a jerk, break some rules sometimes," she tells him.
"Yeah, well, you should follow some rules sometimes," he responds. 
They kiss. Spock cock-blocks them again when he comes up to say goodbye to Irina.
"I hope you continue your search for Eden," he says. "I think you'll either find it, or make it, and I think the goal is a good one."
She thanks him, and leaves.
Kirk approaches Spock.
"We reach," he says, attempting to use some of the hippy lingo. He only succeeds in sounding like a douchebag.


So I have some issues with this episode. I know they were going for "hippies in space," but they ended up more with "what happens when lovely, pacifistic people are lead astray by dicks," because frankly, that's going to happen when you have a group of people who yearning for some kind of utopia: you're gonna have some person who sees a chance to take advantage of that shit because a group of people like that who are looking for a leader are gonna be kind of vulnerable, and will sometimes slip into a space where they just do as they're told, thinking they'll get that ultimate reward.
 Also, who noticed the almost cliche hippy way that Adam and Sevrin died, and that the others were hurt? They were burned by acid. Get it? GET IT? It's a clunky way of mentioning that some members of the hippy revolution took acid. It's also supposed to tie back in with Timothy Leary, the guy on whom Sevrin was loosely based. Leary was also a very smart guy with a PhD, who was into acid during the counter-culture years. Ugh. What a weird-ass mish-mash of stuff in this episode. Hippies and cults, and that go-nowhere B plot about Sevrin being a carrier of some disease that everyone on board was already innoculated against - they really just needed a reason to keep him locked away, but it was wholly unnecessary to the story to keep him from his followers, anyway.
My other problem with this episode is mostly that it feels really, really dated. Do we still have hippies? Totally. Roomie is kind of a hippy. But there isn't the sort of head-butting now that there was then, making the Us vs Them approach taken here feel unnecessary. Spock's attitude of "let's just find them this place and leave them alone" actually seems more at home now than it probably did then. Some Star Trek episodes deal with issues that we still struggle with, and they remain relevant because of that. This episode just feels like a short, weird trip.

Death Toll:
Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 6
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 0
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 7
Total crew deaths thus far: 49

Just Dr Sevrin and Adam. Gonna assume that those Reds they took out were just fine later. Ditto on the people who fainted during the ultrasonic.

*******

So my neighborhood grocer store was bought by another grocery company, and now that store has been replaced with another store. Same crummy-looking store, different signage, more expensive snacks. What it does have is a bigger tea selection, which is nice. This week I grabbed a box of the Full Circle+Project 7 Organic Pomegranate White Tea. I've only seen a few of these products, but they appear to be paired with the Feed the Hungry people, because they'll tell you how many boxes of tea you need to buy to provide a meal for a hungry person. (Although I couldn't find anywhere on the box that specifically says that they are directly donating money or supplies to feed hungry people. I maybe wouldn't buy this product based only on that unless you can find somewhere that says how their philanthropy works. I'm not saying they're lying about it or anything, I'm just saying that there are dicks out there who will say they're supporting some group or another, when really, they're just using that to sell stuff.)
Anyway, I tried this tea hot, cold, and as a tea-sicle. (That's right, muthafuckas, it's tea-sicle season!) It was great all three ways, though with tea-sicles, you need to make an extra-strong brew. It's light enough to be refreshing, but fruity enough that you can taste the pomegranate.

Not the flavor tea I drank, but they didn't have a photo of that flavor.





My pattern now. Get your own.


Happy Birthday, Georgie!




You've only gotten cooler with age.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Season 3, Episode 74 "The Cloud Minders"


"The Cloud Minders"
Production Order: 74
Air Order: 76
Stardate: 5818.4
Original Air Date: February 28, 1969




Kirk's Log 5818.4: "So there's this botanical plague that killing the plants of this one planet, and if the plants go, the people go, too. It's an oxygen thing. Anyway, we conveniently found another Federation planet, Ardana, that has zeinite, which is something we can use to stop the plague."

Uhura tells Kirk that the High Adviser has contacted her to say that Kirk can beam down to Stratos, their city in the clouds, whenever he is ready.
"What?" asks Kirk. "We're beaming down to the mouth of the zeinite mines. The Ardanans just want to throw us some kind of diplomatic party or something. We're not beaming down to Stratos."
He checks with Spock and Scotty to see if they have mine entrance coordinates set, and when they say they do, he takes Spock with him to beam down.
"Tell the High Adviser that we're skipping whatever fancy thing he has planned, and we're going to the mine, because this is an emergency," he tells Uhura on his way out.
And he leaves without waiting to get the response back from her as to why they were being told to go to Stratos. Now, I know Star Trek wants me to think that Kirk is an awesome captain, but we just watched him completely assume one thing and act on it without finding out if it's true or not, and you know that because of the way it was set up here, that Kirk is going to get his sorry ass kidnapped or something.
So Kirk and Spock beam down to the surface alone. Seems like, especially because this is an emergency that involves plants, that they would bring a botanist or something with them (Hello? Sulu?), but I guess Kirk felt that bringing the science officer only would be efficient. They step off a beaming platform and stare up at the sky, at the city of Stratos.


They talk a bit about how art and intellectualism is what the Ardana culture is based on, and about how they've done away with violence. Then they notice that the zeinite, which should have been at the mine entrance, is nowhere to be found. They walk closer, and wonder out loud whether the troglyte mine workers have changed their minds about giving them the zeinite. Then they are lassoed from behind by four miners.
Wow. I never saw that coming.


When we come back from the credits break, Kirk and Spock start an altercation. Of course they win. These miners are unaware that No One in the Known Universe Can Fight. Three people from Stratos beam down, probably because Uhura called them back, and they were all, "WTH? We told him to beam to the cloud city for a fucking reason!"
So the three people who just beamed down are the High Adviser and two guards, and you guys, I have no words for the uniforms on the guards. None. Star Trek has finally rendered me speechless.


Baby blue belted tunics with bell sleeves and over-the-knee black boots. They look like go-go dancers. But those hats, though. THOSE HATS. 
I need a Saurian brandy. You can dispense with the glass.
The High Adviser's guards chase the miners away, shooting one in the back. I guess he's dead? They don't really check on him. Seems like Kirk should insist, but he appears to give no fucks either way. The Adviser introduces himself as Plasus, and he apologizes up one wall and down the other.
"Yeah, don't care," says Kirk. "We need to get that zeinite and get out of here."
"Sooo, the disruptors have taken it," says Plasus. "They agreed to give it up in order to get you guys as their hostages. They're troglyte miscontents who talk the other troglytes into not working. They think that by taking hostages, they can get their demands met by the council."
Plasus sends his go-go dancers to look for the zeinite, then he beams up with Kirk and Spock.
Yeah, that miner is most def dead. Nobody cares. Orange is the new Red.

So I wondered how they were going a "city in the sky" and they actually did a pretty good job. They showed the little matte painting of the city on a cloud, and when the boys beam up, they show just sky and generated clouds outside of the windows. They also show the view looking down, which appears to be just a geographical photograph with some clouds overlaid. Good job, Star Trek. I buy it.


Spock is admiring the technological marvel of the cloud city when Plasus' daughter Droxine comes in. And holy shitsnacks, you guys. The boob hammock has returned! And it's got a cape!



So, despite the fact that this is hella sci-fi porn, I actually kind of like this costume. The color is a nice on one this girl, and it, along with the shimmery quality of the fabric, makes one think of light, airy, puffy clouds and sky. The skirt is long to balance out the fact that there's so much skin up top, and the boob hammock is actually architecturally interesting. (You see that last sentence? "...the boob hammock is actually architecturally interesting"? That sentence is the reason why I can't list this blog as experience when applying for writing jobs. Well, that and the F-bombs. Also, the fact that I keep insisting that Kirk has a physical relationship with the Enterprise.) I could do without the cape, but in future scenes, it appears to be part of the whole Stratos fashion culture, so at least they're consistent with it.
Plasus introduces his daughter as "a work of art." She is excited to meet Spock.
"I've never met a Vulcan, sir."
"Nor I, a work of art, madam." 
Plasus starts to walk them around the council chambers, showing them the different kinds of sculpture, when he comes upon a weird Ardana knife in the wall next to one. He goes off on a rant about disruptors and how they are making demands. When Spock asks about said demands, he is brushed off.
"Just stuff they want."

This is kind of a cool shot, with the sculpture in the extreme foreground.


The boys are given quarters to rest in, as they must be exhausted from engaging in a fight that they started with people on the surface, after Kirk ignored the message to come to the cloud city instead.
Plasus and Droxine have a convo in which Droxine seems to be concerned about diplomatic stuff with the Federation, when really, she's worried about the tasty first officer of the Enterprise. Two go-go dancers come in with troglyte. This guy claims he's there to make repairs, but he doesn't have any ID or papers on him to prove it. Plasus angrily tells him that he needs to rise above his status, and the troglyte angrily replies back that the people of Stratos have declared that that isn't possible. Plasus accuses him of stabbing the wall with the knife he found, then orders him to be tied up, the troglyte throws himself over the balcony instead, and we see him falling. It's just a cut-out growing smaller over the geographical photo, and it's a bit cheesy-looking, but at least they tried. They could have just had him jump and yell progressively quieter.


We get a weird thing in the next scene: Kirk is sleeping in the rest chamber, but Spock is sitting in a chair thinking, and we get a voice-over from him, thinking about the social situations on Ardana. It's not a log of any kind, just Spock thinking. He pretty much compares the people of Stratos and the troglytes, and notes that that the miners seem to do all of the work, and the people in the clouds seem to benefit from it without working for it. He wonders if Droxine is aware of the differences.
Then he says that her name is appropriate for her. I looked it up, thinking it was some clever allusion to some Greek goddess of inequality or something. Star Trek loves doing that. But you know what happens when you Google Droxine? A shit-ton of Star Trek pages come up, all about this episode, and talking about this girl. If you dig really far down in the hole of the internet, you start pulling up sites that list medications, and that is where one finds "droxine:" it's a medicine used to treat hyperthyroidism and goiters. Not even kidding. Maybe Spock sees the situation on Ardana as a social goiter that he hopes she can cure?



Anyway, he calls her "lovely" and "sweet" and basically they want us to believe that he kind of likes her, which, yeah, I don't completely buy. It seems like once a season or so, some episode comes along where they're like, "Let's write a romantic episode for Spock." (Actually, they've done that a few times. Scotty has had two romance episodes that I can recall; off the top of my head, Bones has had two or three; Christine got one (minus that ridiculous crush on Spock they keep trying to push on us); Uhura hasn't really had any; Chekov got one; Sulu got none; and Kirk is a stone-cold mess. If I'm counting correctly, this is Spock's third such episode. And I only ever fully bought the one with the Romulan commander. 
 Spock wanders out into the corridor, where Droxine the Goiter Killer is doing something that includes lightly rattling china. She apologizes for waking him, and he says that he doubts that anyone but a Vulcan would have noticed, because Vulcans have hella good hearing. She says that she's heard that Vulcans are as enlightened as Stratos city dwellers. That's pretty high and mighty talk there, Droxine.


While they're talking, another chick sneaks by them and into the rest chamber. Another boob hammock, another cape, and she's about to stab Kirk with one of those weird trowel-like troglyte knives. Only Kirk is a light sleeper, and they wrestle on the bed. (No, like, actual wrestling. Not the boot-knocking kind.) Turns out she's the troglyte in the purple coveralls, minus the fancy sunglasses and the do-rag from before.


"Hey, it's you. You changed your dressmaker," he quips.
He's got her pinned down, and he says he will let her up if she agrees to answer some questions. She acquiesces, he lets her up, she dives for the knife. he holds her again.
Now we switch back to Spock and Droxine in the corridor, who seem to have noticed neither the girl who snuck by them, nor the struggle in the rest chamber.
You know, it's funny, Spock. I thought you just said you had super-hearing, yet you managed to not hear your captain in the next room over, fending off the chick with the knife?


Spock and Droxine talk about pon farr, and she feigns sadness that he only gets to do the horizontal mambo every seven years. She asks if there's anything that can disturb the cycle.
"Extreme feminine beauty is always disturbing," he replies.
It is?
Kirk calls him from the other room. Spock looks mildly interested. Droxine looks fully cock-blocked.



 So everybody piles into the rest chamber, and Droxine knows the knife-less girl, Vanna. Seems that Vanna used to serve in the High Adviser's household previously. She's here to kidnap Kirk again because the troglytes think that the E is only there to put the smackdown on them. Droxine calls for security. An argument breaks out between them. Vanna says the trogs just want what the Statosians have, which the opportunity to bask in the warm sunlight. Droxine says that's crap, that Stratos is for smart people, and anyway, the trogs have eyes that are sensitive to sunlight, and also, caves are warm. 
Caves are warm.
Yeah, maybe the kind in the sides of active volcanoes.
I don't think they have those on Ardana.
The go-go dancers come and haul Vanna off. Kirk and Spock have noticed that Droxine doesn't science. And also, that she's kind of a bigot.
"So, hey, Droxine," asks Kirk. "WTF?"
"We have a good balance of work and leisure here," says Droxine. "They work, and we play."
"Y'all are not enlightened like you think you are," Spock tells her.
"We have no violence," she insists, just before the scene changes to show Vanna tied to a pillar, about to be tortured.


Plasus asks Vanna how the disrupters are, and she insists there are none, so he turns on this thing that flashes lights at her and makes some kind of high-tech laser noise. She screams, and our boys come running. Vanna passes out.
"The fuck, Plasus?" demands Kirk.
"You wanted the zeinite quickly," he shrugs.
"Not if you're gonna pull this Guantanamo Bay torture bullshit to get it," snaps Kirk.
Droxine kind of says in this round-about way that the trogs are beneath them.
"So you get better shit than they do?" asks Spock. "You get to live like humans, and they get to live like animals?"
She seems pretty put-out that he just gave her a tongue-lashing in equality, and she walks away.
"Troglytes are not smart enough to understand how to function in the world," Plasus tells Kirk.
"Vanna seems smart enough to understand leadership and loyalty," Kirk barks back.
"Naw, that's just because she was a household servant," says Plasus. "We bring up some trogs, give them a little more education, and make them our servants. Like the go-go dancers."
The argument goes on, and Plasus threatens to have them removed. Kirk says the Federation would not take kindly to the Ardanans laying hands on their officers. Plasus then threatens to call Kirk's manager and get him fired. Ardana, as a member of the Federation, no longer qualifies for the protection of the Prime Directive, but he claims that he'll still tell Starfleet that Kirk is interfering in the development of Ardana's culture.
Stuck, Kirk flips him off, and they beam back to the E.
Plasus gives the order to kill Kirk if he comes back.
That escalated quickly.



Kirk's Log 5819.0: "Been here eight hours trying to get this shit. If we don't get the zeinite to the plague planet in the next twelve, they're totally screwed."

Kirk is in his chair on the bridge when Bones enters.
"So, hey," says Bones. "I got a little container of this unrefined zeinite sent up to me, and it's totally poisonous. It's sent all over the galaxy once they've refined it, but when it's like this, it gives off an odorless gas that makes you dumb and angry when exposed to it too long. The Stratosians removed themselves from the process, and are no longer dumb and angry, but the trogs who mine this shit are exposed to it constantly. That's why there's such a huge gap in the intellect of the Stratos people and the cave people."
"Vanna and the other servants were removed from that exposure for a while when they were on Stratos. Their intellect went up, so they were able to lead the revolt," says Spock. "Removal from the zeinite restores intellect."
Bones grabs a filter mask and they head to the transporter room to communicate with Plasus. They explain about the gas and the masks, but he isn't buying it. He thinks that the trogs evolved separately, because they're an inferior species.
"Fine, fuck you!" yells Kirk. "I'm gonna give these masks to Vanna in exchange for the zeinite."
"I forbid it!" barks Plasus. And he hangs up.
"My diplomacy is somewhat inadequate," Kirk tells his boys. Good job, James. Admitting you have a problem is half the battle. "I'm gonna beam into Vanna's cell. She needs to get something for her people, or she won't give us the zeinite."
"I should go instead," says Spock. "They'll kill you if they find you, and I'm more expendable that you or McCoy."
"Noop," says Kirk, hopping on the transporter pad. "This mission is now unofficial. Going rogue."
I'm shocked.

He beams into the prison cell to talk to Vanna. He tells her about the gas and the masks.
"I'll swap you for the zeinite. A mask for every trog, to keep you safe. Then, when I'm done taking the zeinite to the plague planet, I'l come back and represent the trogs in front of the Stratos city council."
"No way," she says. "You won't come back. Generations ago, the people of Stratos said they were building a city for all of us to live in, then they ditched us on the surface."
"Dude, you gotta trust me!" pleads Kirk. "If you guys don't wear these masks, then you're going to continue in this way forever, being poisoned and staying in the mines. And I won't get the zeinite, and a planet full of people will die."
"...yeah, okay," she says finally. "The zeinite is hidden in a place where I can't give you directions. I have to take you there."



I like her little halter-style prison dress. It's simple, and the lines are clean. I don't know if those symbols on the front are for decoration, or that's her inmate number, but I kind of hope it's the latter. I like seeing other species' writing systems.
So Kirk hides when the guard brings in Vanna's dinner, then Kirk stuns him, and they leave, resetting the forcefield behind them.

Down in the caves, Vanna bangs one of those weird knives on a rock to summon her remaining trog friends, whom she greets warmly.
"I brought a hostage!" she says gleefully, and she promptly takes Kirk's phaser and communicator as her friends grab Kirk's arms.
"Vanna, WTF?" Kirk demands.
"You tried to trick us, but now we have you as hostage!"
And she forces Kirk to dig for zeinite with his bare hands.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Spock's Log 5819.3: "Rehash, but also, we have no idea where he is, and we can't contact him because we'll give him away, and then Plasus will kill him. Sucks to be us."

I think this shot may be an attempt to mirror the other one, where
the sculpture sits in the extreme foreground. here, instead of a sculpture,
we get a side view of Midros' sexy leg.


Down in the mines, Kirk is still digging. She tells one of her friends, Anka, to put the mask on the transporter pad so that Plasus will know that they have Kirk as a hostage. She tells her other friend Midros to go tell the other disrupters that they have a hostage now. Midros argues with her in short, simple sentences, that he thinks they should kill Kirk. He finally leaves, but he doesn't look happy. 
"How long are you keeping me here?" asks Kirk.
"Until we get help in the mines, and then we can live in the clouds," she replies.
I see. Her intention is to subjugate someone else, and force them to do the dirty work instead. What a lovely, cyclical plan.
He throws dirt in her face, and they once again end up wrestling for a weapon. He manages to get to the phaser first, then uses it to cave in the entrance to that room.
"You asshole!" she screams. "We're trapped now! The atmosphere will go, and we'll die!"
And Kirk, who has been taking jabs this whole time about "unseen gas" from both her and Plasus, replies, "Die, from something that can't be seen? You astound me, Vanna." 
*snort*
He contacts Spock, and orders him to beam Plasus to his coordinates without talking to him first. A surprise beaming.

Plasus is talking to Droxine on the balcony in Stratos, and she admits that her ovaries throb for Spock. He replies that Kirk is trying to "destroy our power and society." There's a brief cut to the E, where Scotty says that he can't beam the Adviser away because he is standing too close to someone else (Droxine). A go-go dancer comes in to say that a guard was found unconscious in Vanna's empty cell, stunned by Kirk. You wanna tell me how he knew it was Kirk? Cuz by all rights he shouldn't know that. Annoyed, Plasus sends Droxine away to study.
She pauses on her way out to ask, "Are we so sure of our methods that we never question what we do?"
Dramatic music! Surprise beaming!

Down in the caves, Kirk is starting to look and act slightly insane. It doesn't help any that he's filthy and holding his gun like a mobster from a Prohibition-themed movie.


I guess by the time we hit this scene, Plasus has been down in the caves for an hour. He's angry and yelling at Kirk, but Kirk is having none of his shit. he orders Plasus to dig for zeinite in order to expose him to more gas. He makes Vanna dig as well. Spock does a quick contact-check to let Kirk know they only have five hours left. Spock and Bones are concerned when Kirk barks at them to STFU, then hangs up on them.
Vanna and Plasus are getting dizzy, but neither wants to admit there is gas in the cave. Plasus pulls out two digging knives and comes at Kirk, who tosses the phaser away in a "come at me, bro" gesture.


Vanna is finally convinced that there's a gas in the caves that's making them dumb and angry. She watches them roll around on the floor, then grabs Kirk's comm, and magically teaches herself to use it in the space of an instant.
"Helphelphelphelp! They're gonna kill each other! Beam us out!" she screams at Spock.
He obliges, and all three appear on the transporter pad. Kirk and Plasus finish their fight there, and Kirk knocks Plasus the hell out.

Back on Stratos, Vanna has gotten what she wanted, and delivers the zeinite to Kirk. Plasus is still angry and doesn't hesitate to keep yelling at her. Apparently, he's pissed off that when the trogs become smart from wearing the protective masks, that they'll all become as demanding as Vanna. You know, wanting their freedom and equal treatment and shit.



Spock says goodbye to Droxine. She's decided to make a trip down to the mines to see what this whole kerfuffle has been about.
Kirk tells Vanna that he'll give his report to Starfleet and recommend that someone is sent to mediate between the Stratosians and the troglytes.
"Fuck that!" yells Plasus. "You're not coming back here!"
"Personally, I wouldn't set foot here ever again!" Kirk barks back. "You threatened me!"
"Yeah, well, you kidnapped me!" counters Plasus. "So I'm reporting that!"
"Y'all, maybe you should just call it even," suggests Vanna. "Nobody reports anything."
Plasus looks moderately mollified, and Kirk laughs. "You're right. Let's just forget it."
Kirk and Spock hop up on the balcony, and with three hours left, beam up with the zeinite.



So I'm sure I don't need to mention that this is a thinly-veiled story about racism and slavery, and the further troubles of race in America. In truth, the story could have been far more heavy-handed that it came out, so no complaints there. In the original script, there were actually two groups of troglytes battling the city-dwellers, one lead by a pacifistic MLK-type, and the other lead by a Malcolm X-type, with the ending only reaching Kirk being able to get them to talk to one another. Here, the ending is similar, but original scriptwriter David Gerrold being unhappy with it because it turns out that the troglytes' anger is based in part on toxic gas, and wearing the masks keeps the troglytes in service to the Stratosians. However, Vanna seems determined to eventually get her own castle in the sky, and the episode also ends with the promise of mediation. To be honest, this episode was not as formulaic as I thought it would be.


Death Toll:
Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 6
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 0
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 7
Total crew deaths thus far: 49

Just that one troglyte that no one seemed to give a shit about. I guess maybe animals ate him or something.

*******

Went into a less-frequented grocery store this week, and they had a better selection of pre-made teas than my regular place, so I grabbed a can of Inko Citrus Black Currant Oolong. It was a little heavier on the citrus than the black currant, but that was okay. It had nice notes of oolong as well, and the best part: no creepy sugar. I would definitely drink this again.